Listening to Mr. Mark Gorenstein's smart, versatile troupe, one can't help but think of its American counterpart, Michael Tilson Thomas's New World Symphony, based in Miami. I recall listening to the New World's recent RCA CD of several Villa-Lobos ''Bachianas Brasileiras'' and marveling at the absence of signs of inexperience. If anything, the aplomb, the all-around maturity of the Russian Symphony is even more discombobulating.
Like Mr. Thomas's charges, who, performance prizes in hand, come mostly straight from top music schools in the United States, Mr. Gorenstein's players are touted as blue-ribbon graduates of Russia's great institutions. There is something Olympian about these youthful all-star teams, a thrilling aura of strength and purpose and renewal. And what message could be more significant in a time when classical music -- especially the recording side of it -- is widely viewed as moribund?
Clearly, Mr. Pope is betting on a vitality lingering below the surface of the classical market; more than that, he has aimed his Pope Music releases at consumers with fairly broad taste who are willing to pay a premium price. These meticulously produced disks, finished in gold, which is said to reflect a tracking laser beam better than the conventional silver, sell for $30 each.